Monthly Archives: December 2011

(0024X) Summer of ’42

Summer of '42April 11, 1971 | 2 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? An above-average nostalgic drama.

What did I get? Is it possible for a movie to consist entirely of flashback? If so, that movie is Summer of ’42. I guess there are movies set in the past that explicitly present the perspective of a grown-up protagonist ruminating about his or her youth — Dirty Dancing, Stand by Me, The War, perhaps — but what sets Summer of ’42 apart is that all of it is shot in that gauzy “flashback” mode (the poster is an excellent representation of what the movie is like). In other words, it’s a bit hard to take.

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(0023X) Get Carter

Get CarterMarch 21, 1971 | 3 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? Yes

What did I expect? A superior hardboiled British crime movie.

What did I get?  The ultimate in scruffy, pre-Thatcherite hardboiled U.K. cool, Get Carter is the object of considerable fetishization — as its too-high IMBD rating suggests. The admiration for it is so thick that it can be a challenge for the uninitiated to crack its codes, a process I’m still working on. One striking thing about Get Carter is that, for a movie so noted for its violence, it’s almost as much about sex. Another is that, for a movie so noted for its violence, most of the violent scenes are kind of botched. Yet, like Jack Carter himself, it perseveres nevertheless.
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(0022X) Cold Turkey

Cold TurkeyFebruary 21, 1971 | 2 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? A “hysterical” satire — It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World meets Thank You For Smoking.

What did I get? An unjustly neglected treat, more intelligent (but no less ridiculous) than I was expecting. The entire thing, about a small town that quits smoking for a month in order to win $25 million, feels very much like a Mad Magazine satire come to life. Directed and co-written by Norman Lear, it bears every indication of the savvy liberal intelligence that would make him such a dominating force on television in the decade to follow. Memo to Trey Parker and Matt Stone: Remake this movie!

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The Year in Review: 1970

Five Easy PiecesSummary: A strong year, even if it did peter out towards the end. A fine way to start the 1970s — and this project.

Two years after the Summer of Love, the hangover had arrived, and that hangover was embodied most thoroughly not by Five Easy Pieces or Woodstock but by Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. 1970’s #1 movies had something to offer youthful audiences (Five Easy Pieces, Woodstock) and less youthful audiences (Chisum, Airport, The Cheyenne Social Club). Forty-one years later, the former category, to no one’s surprise, has held up better. Continue reading

(0021X) Love Story

Love StoryDecember 20, 1970 | 11 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? What else? A self-consciously vapid … love story.

What did I get? Love Story is so soothingly innocuous and was once so incredibly popular (11 whopping weeks at #1) that it’s a challenge to write about it without some powerful elitism kicking in. It’s the kind of movie that prompts questions about the validity of mass taste, which at other moments has given a big fat kiss of approval to Shakespeare, the Beatles, and The Simpsons. What annoys the discerning isn’t that Love Story is “bad” — it’s not “bad, it’s fairly “good” in certain identifiable ways — but that it’s “wrong.”
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(0020X) The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the PussycatNovember 15, 1970 | 5 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect?  A winsome romantic comedy of some sort.

What did I get? Another puzzle. Was the tolerance for belligerent assholes a lot higher in 1970? Judging from this movie alone, you would have to conclude that it was. The Owl and the Pussycat is one of the most obnoxious movies I have seen in a long time. Imagine a Neil Simon comedy (I generally dislike Neil Simon to begin with), only subtract all attempts to make the characters in any way likable or relatable and replace them with long bouts of aggressive and implausible hollering. That’s what The Owl and the Pussycat is like.
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(0019X) Scrooge

ScroogeNovember 8, 1970 | 1 week at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? A slightly poleaxed musical version of A Christmas Carol.

What did I get? How fortuitous that this post appears on December 21, of all days — would that I could recommend it more forcefully. This sprightly musical adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was strongly influenced by the previous year’s smash hit Oliver! — but it has not held up well. In a world devoid of any other portrayals of the Christmas classic, this would serve honorably as an entertaining version for all ages and types. The existence of the indelible 1951 movie starring Alistair Sim as Scrooge, however, shows its flaws in stark relief.

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Upcoming Movies Page Added

Hi everyone. I’ve added a page that lists the next 20 movies to be reviewed. This page is also accessible under “Upcoming” in the top navbar. This way you can not only read the reviews that have been posted, you can also get a preview of what’s coming up.

While I’m at it, I thought I would point out some of the other pages I’ve posted. You can look at the Continue reading

(0018X) The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

The Private Life of Sherlock HolmesNovember 1, 1970 | 1 week at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? A conventional, possibly substandard Sherlock Holmes adventure.

What did I get? I didn’t like it too much, but it’s a difficult movie to assess. The involvement of Billy Wilder raises expectations, and it should be said that the movie is intelligent but not very resonant. According to, this must be regarded as a tampered, incomplete version, one that was initially intended to be three hours long (!). The strangest aspect, however, is the “private life” mentioned in the title. Admirers of the movie appear to think that the movie succeeded in showing a new side of Sherlock Holmes. I think the idea fails — and in fact was a bad idea in the first place. Continue reading

(0017X) Trog

TrogOctober 25, 1970 | 1 week at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? An almost unwatchably bad and schlocky horror/sci-fi movie.

What did I get? For reasons I don’t fully understand, Trog comes in for an unusual amount of abuse. The 3.2 IMDB rating only begins to express the glee with which viewers trash this movie (check out some viewer reactions). It was an unfortunate note for the illustrious Joan Crawford, who has nothing else like this on her resume, to end on. It’s hard to tell how much sentiment toward Crawford herself affected the reaction — she was not the most likable presence in her later years, and perhaps this movie was seen as her comeuppance.

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